Managing Anxiety – A Practical Guide!

Welcome back, Lovelies!

It’s been a while…I know, I know. Life tends to get on top of you when you don’t have your house in order! Physically, mentally and emotionally May was an EXHAUSTING month but what that reminded me is that as human beings we need to consistently be aware of our bodies, our minds and our souls to ensure that we are okay FIRST. By that I mean, you are good before you make sure anyone else is, and that made me think about how life as a fairly anxious person often makes me worry about things, people and all the unnecessary gaps in-between. So what better way to begin June than by reaching out to all of the other anxious beings in the World and helping us all to learn how to manage anxiety, practically!

Give yourself five seconds…

Image result for count to five

Whether you count it backwards, forwards, out loud or silently, giving yourself five seconds to shake the feeling of anxiety is something I practise in A LOT of circumstances and it somehow tricks my brain into ‘switching off’ the anxiety button. The five second rule is something that many psychotherapists practise as a tool for various things so having done my research and having practised this personally, it works well for me and equally might work for you, too. As you’re counting, repeat in your head “This will get easier” or “I can shake this feeling” – which are personally two things I tell myself, allowing the feeling of relief to re-centre me. I’ve found that this works when I can sense anxiety creeping up on me which feels like panic, irritation, claustrophobia and even breathlessness.

Reading, Writing and Typing…

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for some time you’ll know that I’m an avid reader (stay tuned for the regular book reviews that are soon coming to the blog!)

For me personally, I love fictional novels because it takes me to a realm outside of reality and I’ve never ever felt overwhelmed by anxiety when I read. Even if I’ve felt it coming on, which often happens on my commute to work, I always carry a book with me so I can flick to a page and get reading. Naturally I’ve started to notice that this is one of the best boundary settings for my anxiety which empowers me and equally sets a “I can conquer anything” type of tone for the rest of the day.

If reading isn’t your thing, try writing it out – my handwriting is awful so when I write things out I tend to write in capitals and on reflection it just looks like I’m screaming with a pen, so try writing out your thoughts slowly (and calmly) and watch as your body also loosens with your slow writing pace.

I love using my notes app on my phone. I literally have over 500 notes and I’m convinced this is why I keep losing storage space! Typing things out daily and ticking things off a list on my notes is practical, because I regularly have my phone in my hand, but equally it takes on the form of a diary which helps me to release my thoughts into context which I’m able to digest and unpick. I’ve also gotten into the habit of writing notes to myself when I’m in a better state of mind. What this does is when I’m having an anxious moment, I open my notes and I read the message to myself quietly, which gradually relieves my anxiety.

Try giving one of the three a go and see what works best for you. Are you a reader, writer or typer – or all three of them?!

Breathe…

The simplest of things but one we tend to forget in moments of panic.

I totally understand that overwhelming sensation and frenzy our minds can take us in but it’s equally as important to remind ourselves to grab hold of the reigns and take back the control. In those instances focus on your heart, your breathing and how your body feels. I haven’t had any anxiety attacks since I’ve moved to London but I still remember clearly having a numbing sensation in my finger tips followed by erratic breathing and a pounding heart. When you get out of your mind and realise that your physically overwhelmed you can begin to gradually control your bodies reaction to your anxiety. Start with your breathing – breathe in…breathe out. Repeat this until your heart returns to a normal pace. Once you’ve mastered your breathing and your heart pace, you’ll find that the numbing in your body will release and for those that don’t know, our body is “triggered” by adrenaline which causes us to numb as our body assumes we’re under attack. The most important thing with breathing is that it aligns our body and our minds. Never underestimate the power of the mind and the body when they’re not in tune, but equally remember that we need to set boundaries with our anxiety to ensure that we are in control and can regain control when we feel like we aren’t.

Going for walks…

Whether it’s going for a walk on your lunch break at work, around the block for a Sunday stroll, or even taking a longer route to the supermarket so you get some extra steps in – there is nothing quite so liberating as the feeling you have when you step out of a highly anxious environment and clear your mind with some fresh air.

I do this pretty much all the time. I go for walks on my lunch break, I take a longer walk home from the train station after work and I love going for walks and just seeing where I’ll end up. The point of this is to remove yourself from environments that cause you to become anxious, and equally it evokes positive thoughts because you’re exercising. You could easily take it up a notch and go for a jog, get yourself into the gym, or even work out from home. Anything which releases Endorphins (happy hormones) will increase your ability to navigate around anxiety.

Feel the fear anxiety and do it anyway!

When I started to work out what “triggered” my anxiety, I either removed myself from it (if it were negative) or tried to become less fearful of it. Apart of that is truly not giving a toss about whatever it is that causes your anxiety to spike. Once you adopt that blasé attitude, things that might have made you anxious no longer do because you’ve purposefully detached yourself from that emotion. That is also apart of setting boundaries. I’ve become so well acquainted with boundary-setting that I enjoy it; I love the feeling of knowing what I like, don’t like and what I won’t tolerate – even with myself! When you remind your mind that you are in control, you start to feel the grip loosen and slowly but surely you feel much more comfortable with things that have caused you to become anxious and you just get on with life!

I recently reflected on my time living in Southampton. I knew I was quite an anxious person so when I felt controlled by it I’d stay in my flat and complete really mundane tasks so that I could keep my mind focused on everything other than my anxiety. On reflection I call this the “trapped phase” because my anxiety controlled what I did and didn’t do. When I moved to London however, I committed to myself that even if I felt anxious, I’d go ahead and do it anyways. Whether that be getting up and going out, going to an event, socialising, being active, jumping on a cramped train during my morning commute – whatever form it was, I’d “feel the fear – or anxiety – and do it anyways”.

I prompt people to recognise that even when we experience anxiety, it’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s that nervous voice telling us we’re stepping into unknown territory which triggers the switch, but equally that proves you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, evolving and getting on with things!

Another point to note is, do not give a toss what anybody else thinks or says about you and your anxiety. I’ve had people tell me “It’s not that deep” or “You don’t seem anxious” all the while I was trembling on the inside and in fact their remarks made me even more anxious. I became so conscious of not talking about it in fear someone’s opinion would prompt me, so instead I dressed it up as introvertism. Whether I’m an introvert, shy, confident, loud, peaceful or erratic, I’ve learnt to totally not care about other’s opinions in order to be the best version of myself at ALL times. I accept my strengths, my progress areas (note I said progress areas and NOT weaknesses) and I’ve learnt to be me in the most authentic way possible which in actuality triggers my anxiety even more but to that I say – come on girl, you can do this!

I hope you found the above five tips easy to understand and hopefully even easier to implement into your routine. There are PLENTY more things I could talk about, but definitely the top five are tips that I’ve implemented into my own routine quite regularly, so I urge you all to give it a go and as always, let me know what you think!

x

 

 

 

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tamika says:

    I thought I was the only one who takes the longer/quieter route home sometimes to clear my mind and just feel present. This was a good read, useful tips ❣️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tamika! I’m glad you found the tips useful and no you’re not alone in doing that! It’s good to have time to clear your mind! x

      Like

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